JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Royal Air Defense Force on Friday shot down a Houthi drone targeting civilians in a residential area of the city of Abha, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
After examining the wreckage, the Saudi-led Arab coalition said “it showed characteristics and specifications of Iranian manufacturing.”
Col. Turki Al-Maliki, the spokesman for the coalition, warned the Iranian-backed Houthi militia “in the strongest terms” to stop targeting civilian. He said the coalition would take all measures, in accordance with international humanitarian law, to counter such threats.
The drone was intercepted over a residential area in the city of Abha, about 230 kilometers north of the border with Yemen, according to reports on Al Arabiya TV. Col. Mohammed Al-Assami, a spokesman for the Directorate of Civil Defense in Asir region, said four Saudis, one of them a woman, and an Indian expat were injured by falling debris. Six vehicles and a number of houses were damaged.
Rajeh Badi, the official spokesman for the legitimate government in Yemen, said the Houthi militias are terrorists who have no interest in peace. The latest drone attack, he added, was further proof of their continued violation of all agreements and talks sponsored by the United Nations. He said the UN and the international community must understand that the Houthis are taking advantage of the negotiations and the international efforts to end the conflict in Yemen and have no desire to end the suffering of Yemenis.
“The United Nations and the international community must unequivocally condemn Houthi terrorist operations both inside and outside Yemen,” said Badi. “The complacency about, and non-condemnation of, such operations will embolden not only the Houthis but also all other terrorists in the world to continue to threaten international peace and security everywhere.”
He said the terrorist attacks carried out by the Houthis against civilian targets in Saudi Arabia clearly reveal the true nature and malicious intentions of the Iranian-backed militia, and stressed that they have not yet complied with agreements reached during peace talks in Stockholm and Jordan regarding the handover of the port of Hodeidah and a prisoner-swap deal.
Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Saudi political analyst and international-relations scholar, described the Houthi aggression as “unacceptable” and said the UN shares the blame by not taking a firm enough stance.
"I would blame the United Nations (for this latest Houthi attack)," he said. "It should immediately rally the international community against this criminal, Iran-aligned militia. This attack on a civilian population in Abha is a clear violation of the Stockholm agreement."
He said the Houthis cannot be trusted, adding: “They are not interested in peace. They are the enemies of Yemen. They want to prolong the war so that they can continue to hold Yemenis hostage at the point of gun. The world community should understand what Saudi Arabia is facing — this is terrorism.”
Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said: “The coalition’s priority is Yemen’s security and stability, and the war was imposed on it by the Houthi coup.”
Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies entered the war in Yemen in 2015, after the Houthis drove the internationally recognized government into exile in 2014. The coalition accuses Iran of supplying the Houthis with arms, including drones and missiles. Iran and the Houthis deny the accusations.
The Houthis have fired dozens of missiles into Saudi Arabia during the four-year conflict, most of which have been intercepted by the Saudi military. Most recently, coalition forces destroyed another Iranian-made Houthi drone over Abha on Jan. 30.
Residents in the city took to social media on Friday to praise the military forces, after the Saudi Ministry of Defense (@Mod_GovSa) posted on Twitter: “The Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces has intercepted and demolished a hostile drone.”
User @d7oom_asirri_9 responded: “The drone was intercepted and we did not feel a thing, it was only sound. Everyone can sleep at ease thanks to Allah and these men.”
@Mooog990 tweeted: “A missile was intercepted and shrapnel fell on Sultan City district in Abha. Everything was taken care of.”